Don't be. Here's a simple explanation on how they work in the Democratic Party in my home state, Indiana. (Thanks to Matthew Tully and the IndyStar )I do admit that many other states are more complicated- California much more so- but Indiana tried to keep things simple...
"...Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama -- should their battle continue until Indiana's May 6 primary -- will each walk away with a decent portion of the state's 84 delegates. (Actually, it could be 85. I'll explain that in a bit.)
Let's start at the top. There are two groups of delegates: pledged delegates and superdelegates. First up, the 72 pledged delegates. A portion of these is assigned to each candidate based on the percentage of the popular vote they receive... Of the pledged delegates, 25 are split between candidates based on their percentage of the statewide vote, so if one candidate gets 51 percent of the vote, he or she receives 13 of the 25 delegates.
The other 47 pledged delegates are tied to results in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts. Each district gets between four and six delegates to split between Clinton and Obama. (The exact number each district receives is based on how well Democratic candidates for president and governor performed in 2004.)...
Now let's talk about superdelegates. Indiana has 11. They include the four Democratic members of the U.S. House and Sen. Evan Bayh. Chairman Parker, state Vice Chairwoman Cordelia Lewis-Burks and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew also occupy spots on the list, as do Democratic National Committee members Phoebe Crane, Bob Pastrick and Connie Thurman.
Andre Carson would become a 12th superdelegate if he wins the March 11 special congressional election.
(I hate to bring this up, but there's also one "unpledged add-on" delegate. It's confusing, but the bottom line is this spot likely will be assigned to Democratic contributor Bren Simon.)..."
Simple, but then Indiana is not sophisticated like Massachuessetts or California or Florida. No wait, Florida's delegates don't count; they're being punished. But the thing to watch is the Superdelegates in each state.
Why? First let me note that I'm about to say applies to both parties; I'm not picking on the Democrats here. When they decided to introduce some democracy into the democratic process, rather than having candidates pick in back rooms at conventions, they were afraid it might get too democratic- the people might pick the wrong candidate. So the party created Superdelegates, older and wiser heads that could throw the nomination back to the right choice.
They've never had to overrule the electorate before, but we've never had dueling candidates like this before. Which will the party think is more electable in the fall? Make no mistake; whatever the voters say, that's the candidate who'll win at the convention.